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AfCFTA: ECA Tasks Member Countries On Free Movement Protocol

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Coordinator, African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Mr David Luke, has charged member countries on the significance of the free movement protocol.
Luke gave the charge to an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) side event on the sidelines of the commission’s ongoing 53rd session of its Conference of Ministers in Addis Ababa on Saturday.
He said that the protocol would be critical to securing gains from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The event was tagged “Digitalising Migration Response to harness Africa’s Economic Development and Demographic Dividend in the Covid-19 Era.”
The ECA representative said the four basic freedoms which made up the African continental and regional integration agenda were in the movement of people, capital, goods and services.
He recalled that the Abuja Treaty establishing the African economic community, adopted by the defunct Organisation for African Unity in 1991, envisioned the “free movement of people and the rights of residence and establishment”.
“This represents the fifth phase of the Abuja Treaty which is expected to be realised by 2023.
“The Protocol to the Treaty on the Establishment of the African Economic Community relating to Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment was adopted in January 2018 together with a comprehensive implementation roadmap.
“Yet there has been a slow pace of signature and ratification of the protocol,” he said.

According to the ECA, the protocol must be ratified by 15 member states to enter into force and 32 have signed but only Rwanda, has ratified it.
Luke said the concept of free movement of persons was often poorly understood.
“We must do better than this. Freer movement cannot depend only on the AfCFTA Protocol on Services that allows for movement in relation to investment and service delivery.
“True freedom of movement in Africa would instead allow African citizens to move to, live in, work, or provide a service or a business in another country on the continent, under the same or similar conditions as a citizen of that country.”
He added that there might be a need to redesign the freedom of movement protocol to respond to concerns raised by policy makers.
He noted that this was to ensure that Africans could benefit fully from the liberalised market being created by the AfCFTA.
“Regional Economic Communities (RECs), which have faced their own challenges with ratification and implementation of Free Movement Protocols, have a role to play in promoting increased understanding of the free movement concept.
“It is the free movement of people which will boost intra-African trade under the AfCFTA, and enable African countries to proactively and swiftly respond to the twin green and digital transitions we are faced with in the 2020s,” Luke said.
He stressed that Africa could not afford to not build “seamless borders for tomorrow’s Africa,” and further proposed that the ATPC and IOM organise a series of awareness raising events.
He said the events would be organised with the Rwandan Government as a principal partner.
For his part, Mr Jean-Denis Gabikini, Acting Director, Directorate of Economic Development Integration and Trade, African Union Commission, said various challenges in the continent has resulted into increased migration by youths.
“At least 60 per cent of Africa’s population is aged below 24 years and its active contribution to economic growth, which is reflected by increased incomes and development, is not there.
“Instead of making the most of this dividend we are unable to offer jobs to our youth, forcing them to seek livelihoods elsewhere,” Gabikini said.
The 53rd session of the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is tagged “Africa’s Sustainable Industrialisation and Diversification in the Digital Era in the Context of COVID-19″.
It is held onsite and online and would end on March 23.

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Stakeholders Meet To Assess Nigeria’s Preparedness For AFCFTA

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Stakeholders are expected to converge in Lagos today to take a look at the Nigeria’s preparedness to maximize the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 
The Tide learnt that stakeholders will be converging at the instance of a popular online newspaper, Primetime Reporters, to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement.
The event which is the Third Annual Lecture and Awards of the online medium has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.” 
The event will also witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavours.
The Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, made this known in a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning from 10.00am.
Nwadinamuo said that the event would be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, would be the lead paper presenter.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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EFCC Nabs 419 Kingpin Over N250m Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested a leader of a deadly 419 syndicate, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka (a.k.a Awise) over an alleged attempt to swindle an innocent Nigerian of N250 million. 
The Tide learnt that the syndicate operates from a shrine at Ashipa Town, near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Sunday, by the EFCC, Awise’s arrest followed a petition by his victim, Juliet Bright who lost N250m to the fraudster after she was tricked to provide money for sacrifices and invocations to heal her of an ailment.
The statement said Bright was introduced to Alaka by one Akinola Bukola Augustina (a.ka. Iya Osun) whom she met on Facebook in the course of her search for solutions to her health challenge. 
What drew her to Augustina was the latter’s post under the name, Osunbukola Olamitutu Spriritual Healing Centre.
 Once Bright contacted Augustina, the latter promised to heal her if she could pay N16 million. 
The victim paid the money through an Access Bank account belonging to one Mohammed Sani, who later turned out to be a Bureau De Change Operator.
After paying the money without receiving healing, Augustina transferred the victim to other members of the syndicate, notably Awise. 
Bright revealed that she met Awise at his shrine in Ashipa Town and was hypnotized and subsequently transferred various sum through bank accounts and in cash to the suspect and his syndicate members, until she lost N250 million to them.
Despite all the monies collected from her, her health conditions has never improved.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Expert Wants Farmers To Grow Plant Produce For Export

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An expert in Quarantine Agriculture, Dr Vincent Ozuru, has advised Nigerian farmers to give more attention to growing plants produce that could be exported.
He said that plant like the hibiscus, popularly known as Zobo is on high demand in some countries around the world, today.
Ozuru who gave the advice while speaking to aviation correspondents at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, noted that some plants produce, particularly hibiscus, had yielded huge revenue to the Federal Government through export.
According to him, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone in 2017 and earned $35 million within nine months of that year.
The agricultural quarantine expert explained that the export of the plant had a setback as a result of storage pest discovered by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service in some consignments.
“The issue has now been taken care of and the export is resuming again, and all matters have been resolved with the stakeholders across the value chain.
“Mexico is the largest importer of Nigerian hibiscus, and our farmers should brace up to the challenge.
“The good news is that Nigeria has a vast growing belt in hibiscus, and the harvest is available all year round.
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to earn foreign exchange for ourselves and for the country at large, even with the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy”, he said.
Ozuru called on Nigerian farmers to show more commitment to the growing of export produce and also endeavor to get ready information on it in order to increase their income.

By: Corlins Walter

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